Thursday, October 2, 2014

Living an Intentional Life.


If you read my blog on a regular basis, you've probably noticed that- well, there is nothing "regular" about it. I may go a week straight with daily blogs on all sorts of things and then- silence for months. While I love to write, it simply is not a priority in my life, and therefore, looks very inconsistent. But let me assure you, it is not for the lack of desire or commitment, but rather, just the result of living a life with purpose; being intentional about everyday choices.

~~~~~

I'd love to say I've always been intentional about even the smallest of choices, but if I did, I'd be lying. It's not that the concept was foreign to me, I just never really had to. You see, prior to moving to Oklahoma, our family was blessed to be in a safety bubble of familiarity, tradition and consistency. Our daily activities may have fluctuated a bit, but the overall "theme" and justification for most of our decisions fell into the "that's just what you do" category. For instance, if our church was going to have a new Bible study, there was no prayerful consideration on if we should go or not, we just did, because "that's what you do" when you are involved in a church. If our family was going to get together for a barbecue, there was no decision to be made, we would just go because "that's what you do" with family. Now, don't get me wrong, they weren't bad or wrong decisions, they were merely decisions that were made time and time again without any thought as to the purpose behind them. We were turning into habitual people rather than intentional people.

Moving away from our family and friends was not the easiest decision, but there was purpose behind that leaving, aside from the job that brought us here. With the isolation that came from being in an unfamiliar place, came a season of stretching, growing and opportunity to be intentional with our lives and choices. It has not been easy, but we have been able to take a step back and really redirect our focus on God's will for our lives and how to live intentionally to fulfill that purpose. And I have to say, it has been so rewarding.  I have never felt so much joy and fullness of life.

~~~~~

I just want to bottle up what I feel inside and send it to you. If I could put it in a latte and send it your way, I would. But I can't. I can't even tell you how you should change your life or be more intentional about your decisions in order to obtain that peace. But what I can tell you is that a good place to start would be to ask yourself..


What is the purpose of this decision? 

What is the purpose of my life?

Is what I'm doing fulfilling that purpose?

~~~~~

Just remember... Be intentional.

~~~~~

Matthew 28:18-20
Acts 1:8

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I Do: Easy to Say. Harder to Live.


~~~~~~

Today, Joe and I celebrate six years of...

...yard work and date nights... 

...trials and growth...

...tears and laughter... 

...jobs and babies... 

...doubt and comfort...

...losses and blessings...

...pain and love... 

...arguments and reconciliation...

...pride and humility...

...ups and downs...

...good times and bad times..

Six years of keeping a promise between one another and to God.



~~~~~~

So in honor of not only our anniversary today, 
but my parents' as well,
today's blog is on one of the greatest commitments a person can make: 
marriage

~~~~~~

Marriage, by no definition is easy, nor should it be. But we, in our fleshly nature, tend to trivialize things that seem hard for us to either obtain or that we want to give up on, and marriage is no exception to that tendency. Instead of looking at it as a serious holy covenant that "...should be honored by all" (Hebrews 13:4), we encompass it with simple catchphrases such as "the next step," or "it was meant to be," making it seem like an easy thing to do.

However, for those of us who have actually made that commitment, we know it is anything but "easy." There can be days where anger and bitterness plague your relationship so much so that all you want to do is get revenge. There can be times when the pain is so strong that you don't remember why you fell in love in the first place. There are days that just plain suck...

... But it is on "those days" that you must fight... not with one another, but together. You must fight through all of the pride, hurt, and grudges in order to recognize where the true problem lies. John 10:10 reminds us that "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." If he destroys your marriage, he succeeds in not only killing your joy and your spirit, but in making a mockery of God's sacred covenant. You are essentially a means to an end for the enemy and he will come in quick and hard and will pursue destruction at any cost. 

So put down the walls and weapons of judgment, self-righteousness and entitlement between you and your spouse and "submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7). Stop focusing on the flaws of the other person and start striving to be the man/woman of God he is calling you to be (Proverbs 31:10-31; Ephesians 5:22-33) and stand firm in faith, truth and love. God is a god of order, perfection and purpose. He did not create marriage to be impossible or to inevitably fail. He created it out of love for us "... it is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18) and has given us the tools to succeed, but we must first submit to His Word and truth:


"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7


"Do not judge, or you too will be judged"- Matthew 7:1


"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" - 1 Peter 5:7

"My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life"- Psalm 119:50

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." -John 15:12

"He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD"
- Proverbs 18:22

"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them"
-Colossians 3:18-19

~~~~~~

Want more? Check out last year's anniversary blog if you haven't already! "Top 10 Marriage Tips"

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Questions to Ask Your Kindergartner About School

It's here... That time when we have to admit that our "babies" really are big kids now, heading into the world of endless homework and friends and our "say" about their day is limited to what they get in their lunchbox and how they get to and from school. We just have to sit back, hope, trust, and pray that at the end of the day, we hear nothing but how much they love school... !

But if your children are anything like mine, it'll be like pulling teeth to get any information from them. My preschooler's response to, "What did you learn today" is usually, "I don't remember." I have found that if I wait until about an hour after school to ask questions and only ask one every few minutes, they are more prone to tell me more details and be able to give me real answers.

Below is the list of questions I put together to help me focus on what to talk about with my girls this year while they are in Pre-K and Kindergarten. Some are simple and fun, others... well... they may feel awkward asking and can be pretty serious and possibly open up to hard conversations. But those are the questions that are some of the most important ones. I wish we lived in a society where we could totally trust that our kids are safe and keep them unexposed to some horrible things in life, but unfortunately we can't always control what happens. But what we can control is creating an environment in the home where our children feel safe to be transparent and honest about not only the good things, but the bad.

The key is to ask these questions from a place of love. To speak truth, not fear. If he/she doesn't answer right away, don't overreact. Just use your discernment and go from there. If he/she is off in "la-la land," don't push the question. Move on to another one or ask them at dinner for the whole family to hear. If you feel they are truly hiding something, try and rephrase the question or wait to ask it again until later in the day when they are more vulnerable to open up.

Again, this list is just to help give you some ideas on what to talk about with your kiddos. If you have older kids, change the verbiage, add or subtract some questions. Make the questions fit your family..

Bottom line is just to ask. We need to be a generation of parents that care about our kids and what goes on during the day when we're not there. We need to be "present" even when we're not present.


Hope you and your kids have a great school year and enjoy growing closer together while they grow as individuals!!!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Time is Now.



I woke up this morning thinking about how good that freshly brewed coffee smelled and that I could use fifteen more minutes of sleep. After I managed to roll out of bed, I began thinking about my day and what I could do fun with the kiddos. Our conversation at breakfast consisted of what we were going to have for lunch and how I may get them a cake pop at Starbucks when we run errands. Just an ordinary day in the Rettedal home...

... that is... until I watched this video...

(If video does't play, click here)


... and then started reading these articles...




My world was severely rocked. I just broke down crying, mainly because my heart breaks for those involved, but also because I feel so ashamed that I am so consumed on a daily basis with my own little world.

When you read about my morning, did you see any mention of me praying for those in need or the kids and I going to give a casserole to a lonely widow? Me neither. It's usually all about us. Our needs. Our desires. Now, I understand that my primary focus aside from God is my family, but it shouldn't stop there. Time and time again the Word of God instructs us to love others and help those in need.

"For there will never cease to be poor in the land.
Therefore I command you, 
'You shall open wide your hand to your brother,
to the needy and to the poor,
in your land.'"
-Deut. 15:11

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy"
-Proverbs 31:8-9

"Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are please to God."
-Hebrews 13:16

So that is exactly what I'm going to do. I don't have many resources or the capability to fly oversees to hold the hands of a mom whose child was beheaded, but I do have an Almighty loving God whose hand is mightier than an entire army. A God who hears our cries and petitions and is a refuge to those in times of affliction.

"The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you."
-Psalm 9:9-10

"For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death.
He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight"
-Psalm 72:12-14

Well that time is now. There are people being targeted and tormented, being beheaded and buried alive. It is such a harsh and horrific thought, but it is the truth. These people aren't worried about what's for lunch, they're worried about if they will ever be free from persecution.

I am committing today, and everyday, to lift them up, not just with a two second blanket prayer of "Lord, please help those who need help," but with true pleading and petitioning for those who are defenseless and living in fear, just as Nehemiah did for Jerusalem.. 

"... O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps
covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep 
his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open,
to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you
day and night for the people of Israel your servants..."
-Nehemiah 1:5-6

These people need God. They need the power of prayer. 

Thanks to the loving hearts of a couple individuals, tomorrow, Saturday the 16th, at 8am MST, hundreds of people from all over will be coming together to pray for those afflicted. Join us in praying for those aiding and serving the refugees. For the military personnel risking their lives to ensure the safety of others. For President Obama and his advisors, that they may have wisdom and discernment on how to proceed. 

It doesn't matter who you are or where you are. God hears you.

"And this is the confidence that we have toward him,
that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us"
-1 John 5:14

~~~~~

Don't pray when you feel like it.
Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it.
A man is powerful on his knees.
-Corrie Ten Boom

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Raising a Perfectionist

One of the first things you learn as a parent is that you have flaws... major flaws... and lots of them. Children are like those makeup mirrors that zoom in and show you more about yourself than you ever cared to know. You don't think your tone of voice when talking to your spouse is disrespectful? Wait until that same tone and those same words come out of your four-year-old's mouth. You'll start to change your mind. And honestly, I don't think it's necessarily an entirely bad thing. I really appreciate how much my kids have helped me grow, just by watching how they respond to situations. It's far easier to accept personal "correction" through internal conviction by watching someone else rather than by someone having to verbally tell you what you need to change. And if you can recognize it and change that behavior in yourself first, it makes the correction process with your children a whole lot smoother.

But there are times when you see something in one of your kids that you yourself haven't been completely freed up from. That's when things start to sting a little... Trust me, I'm freshly wounded...


You see, Addi had soccer camp this week. She played recreational soccer last fall and spring and loved it, so I didn't think twice when signing her up for a skills camp.  And although she had only really played games and hadn't worked much on technique, I figured she would be fine. Besides, she hadn't done much without her siblings this summer and I knew she was anxious to do her "own thing."

The first day of the session came and she was ready. With her ball pumped up and water bottle in hand, she was bound and determine to dominate that field. The coach started calling out instructions and the girls started kicking. It looked like a big green neon blob rolling back and forth between cones with the occasional bright pink ball getting away from the group. Everyone seemed to be doing somewhat of the same thing, but there was something that stuck out more than all those brightly colored socks... Addi. With every drill, I could physically see her confidence deteriorate. Although I was concerned about her feelings, I kept smiling at her and giving her the "thumbs up" to keep her going until the end.

It wasn't until later in the day when I really had a chance to sit down and talk with her.

Me: "Adds, did you have fun today?"

Addi: "Yeah."

"Do you want to play it again during school?"

 "If you want me to."

"Well Addi, I don't want you to do it because I want you to. It's a fun special thing for you to be able to play. Either you like to play soccer or you don't. Just tell me."

"Well, I like it, it's just hard. I just want to do school. And swim. School and swim."

"Okay. Well let me ask you this.. If you did what the coach said exactly right the first time and you were the best at it, would you want to play soccer?"

...with a smile... 

 "Yes!"

"So you just get so frustrated because it's hard, that you don't want to play soccer anymore?"

"Yeah.."

I didn't even have to finish the conversation to know where this was all stemming from. It had nothing to do with soccer itself. I've seen her react this way when practicing using scissors and trying new things. If it doesn't come naturally to her and she doesn't do it perfect the first time, frustration immediately sets in. Wow.. the apple really doesn't fall far from the tree.

I've known for years and years that I deal with the spirit of perfection. Although I wish it was, it's not the same as doing your best at everything or with a spirit of excellence (Colossians 3:23, Daniel 6:3). It is needing to do it in a way that there is no room for error. Flaws, weaknesses and shortcomings do not exist in the world of a perfectionist. And unfortunately, it walks hand-in-hand with a controlling spirit. You control your world so you aren't faced with failure.

So how do you break that bondage off of your child so he/she does not deal with frustration as you have? Prayer and submission. Like I said, I've known for a long time that I deal with perfectionism and though I have not yet completely overcome it, I have grown immensely by praying daily and relinquishing my control to the Lord. Your children are never too young to teach them where true freedom and joy come from. It is not by the number of medals on your shelf or the grade letter on your paper, but rather by having the peace and satisfaction that you are wonderfully made and as long as you are doing your best as unto the Lord, it is good enough. 

It may happen overnight or it may be a life-long journey. Either way, each morning will be a choice for you and/or your child. Are you going to walk in the bondage we call "being perfect?" Or are you going to choose to accept that gift of freedom that you have been given?

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" - 2 Cor. 3:17



"But he [the LORD] said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." -2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

you're wrong.

"Who is wise and understanding among you? 
Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 
But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 
Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving,
considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness"
James 3:13-18

~~~~~~~~


~~~~~~~~

How many times in your life have you put all the responsibility of a problem or situation on the other person?
... Let me ask the question in a different way... 
How many times have you used phrases such as, "You're wrong," or "I didn't do anything, it's your fault?" 
... Hitting a little closer to home yet? 

It sure is for me.

You see, I have done my fair share of finger pointing, primarily in the first couple years of marriage. My husband and I were both very hard-headed and stubborn people trying to mesh our lives together. We both stood on what we thought was "right" and would just wait for the other to give in, as if saying "you're right" or being submissive was a bad thing. It was such a foolish, prideful, and selfish way of thinking. Simple disagreements over petty things would turn into explosive arguments. And for what? To be able to say, "I told you so?" Oh my word. What nonsense!

And to make matters worse, even if one of us was indeed "right," we were both handling it such a way that we were being a stumbling block for the other person. It is in our fleshly nature to either defend ourselves or run if we feel challenged. So instead of being "meek in wisdom" when discussing differences, we chose to make sure our point was heard which would only add fuel to the fire and stir up negative emotions in the other person. What a waste of valuable and precious time together...

Just imagine how many relationships would be saved if each individual took the time to focus on how to better their reactions and emotions when engaging in a disagreement. To strive to be selfless instead of selfish... submissive instead of boastful... full of mercy instead of full of bitterness.

James says in verse seventeen,

"... But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving,
considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."

What words describe the manner in which you handle conflict? Whether you are in the right or in the wrong, are you considerate of the other person? Or just out for blood? It doesn't even have to be in a marriage, it can be with a co-worker who just is constantly trying to tear you down. Do you handle it like a man/woman of integrity or walk in with fists clenched and ready for battle?

My friend, I don't know about you, but I am tired of fighting. Let's stop pointing fingers and drawing lines in the sand. You know as well as I do that we are not perfect, nor are we better than our spouse or mailman. Let us honor one another through every interaction (good and bad), whether we think the other person is worthy of it or not. It may not be easy and we may not see the benefit right away, but we can have assurance and peace knowing that...

"Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness"
-James 3:18

Monday, July 21, 2014

watermelon slush.

Need something cold and tasty for this HOT summer?! 
A watermelon slush is perfect for the kiddos... and the parents :) 
All you need is five ingredients and five minutes.


Ingredients
  • 4-5 cups chilled diced watermelon
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar 
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/4 cup water (more or less depending on how "icy" you'd like it)
Put in a small amount of watermelon & ice into the blender. Blend until there is a smooth consistency. Add some more watermelon & ice. So on and so forth until all the watermelon & ice has been added. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until fully blended.

Pour. Drink. Enjoy

Makes about 4 servings at 60 calories each.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sweet Saturdays: 'Nana Split Ice Cream

I love traditions. It gives everyone something to look forward to and always remember.  Since moving to Oklahoma, we have started a new tradition of having Sweet Saturdays- a special treat after dinner every Saturday. We're not too big into desserts around here, so this gives our kiddos a chance to have something sweet and tasty at least once a week. It's been so fun coming up with something new week after week and having the girls help me in the kitchen. We have made some memories for sure!

One of my favorites so far was banana ice cream. It was so simple, but still SO YUMMY. I'm not a fan of ice cream, but I definitely could eat this on a regular basis.

All you need for banana ice cream is.... bananas. Yep. That's it. So instead of tossing those brown bananas, cut them up, put on parchment paper and freeze.


Once frozen, put the banana slices in the food processor and blend until you have a smooth consistency. I actually add a touch of almond milk to make it a little creamier for the kiddos to eat. After it is all blended, you're done! You can add whatever toppings you'd like. Last week, we did a banana split flavor, so we added mini chocolate chips and strawberry slices. Delicious and semi-nutricious. 


There you have it folks! Something sweet for your Saturday.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Loving Enough to Discipline



How and when to discipline children can be a fuzzy area for some parents, but one that we all must navigate on a daily basis. We don't want to be so hard on the kids that they don't see firsthand what grace and compassion look like, but we also don't want to be so lenient that they feel as though their behavior is acceptable and turn into disrespectful human beings. This is why making sure that our thinking is clear and having a firm understanding on how and why we should raise our children a certain way is so crucial. If we aren't fully convicted or consistent in the way we carry out correction, it will only make matters worse. It will essentially turn into a relationship of the blind leading the blind.

Personally, I'm not willing to take that risk. I love my kiddos far too much to be foolish and just "wing it." It is for reasons such as this that I turn to the One who created them... who wrote the ultimate book on discipline and parenting... who knows my own children far better than I ever will... and who demonstrates unconditional love, correction and grace as a parent should. Let's see what He has to say about the matter...

~~~~~~~~

First, we must understand that children are a blessing, not a burden.

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate"
-Psalms 127:3-5

 If we focus on how tired children make us or all the things they did wrong or how they "inconvenience" us, we will have missed one of the greatest blessings we have ever received.

Raising and disciplining our children is our responsibility.

"Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it"
-Proverbs 22:6

We cannot rely on teachers, coaches, and/or grandparents to do what God has called us to do as parents, nor should we want to. We are so blessed to have people in our lives to help teach our children right from wrong, but we can't let that replace us, as the parents, from instilling truth in our kids.

"Love the LORD your God will all your heart and will all your soul
and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today
are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up."
-Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Correction may not be easy, but it is necessary.

"The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother...
Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart"
-Proverbs 29:15, 17

Yes, being consistent in disciplining is exhausting and overwhelming at times, but it is a crucial part of parenting. We all can tell the difference between a disciplined child and an unruly one. Do you want others to talk about your child for the right or wrong reasons?

If God can forgive you and I and extend grace, we must be willing and able to do the same for our children.

"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a 
grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
-Colossians 3:13

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins...
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,
as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms."
1 Peter 4:8,9

I will be the first to say that at times it is truly hard to forgive my child who disrespects me by doing the same thing over and over again. But I quickly ask myself, "Who am I to not forgive my child when I am not the One who paid the ultimate cost so that we can all be forgiven?" The same thought process goes with extending grace.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God"
-Ephesians 2:8

"Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged"
-Colossians 3:21

There are times for strong discipline so they understand the extent and seriousness of the offense, but then there are times when grace is extended and just a conversation about the situation will suffice. Grace and correction can and should co-exist, but must be based on consistency.

"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace..."
-1 Corinthians 14:33

What we teach and pour into them, they will teach and pour into others. 

"We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done...
so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands."
-Psalm 78:4-7

Y'all, these are the ones who will continue our legacy, good or bad. Their actions and words will ultimately be a reflection of us. How do you want to be remembered? 

~~~~~~~~

Do they push our buttons all the time? Yes. Do they deliberately disobey at times regardless of how many times you tell them not to do something? Yes. Are you exhausted beyond belief? Probably. But friend, I just want to encourage you to keep going. Your long days, patience and hard work will not go without reward. And people will notice, whether you realize it or not. Be strong and steady, but don't forget to enjoy the journey and love along the way.

~~~~~~~~

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. 
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7

~~~~~~~~

For a couple great books to help guide you through the parenting process, 
check out the "Recommend Books" page.

Monday, July 14, 2014

are you willing?



~~~~~~~~

Do you ever have those days where you keep feeling that same "urge" over and over again to do something that you don't really want to do? For instance, you know you need to reconcile with someone or reach out to them and random things keep reminding you so you can't run from it? Yep. Me too.. and yesterday was one of those days..

As most of you know, we moved to Edmond, OK almost two months ago. While that seems like we've been here awhile, it really does take time to get settled in, get a routine going and get plugged in somewhere. Knowing this, I have been "easy" on myself that I haven't met a ton of people. I know the names of a few of our neighbors, have had a couple of playdates and met some families at church. So in my mind, I was doing awesome at building relationships ... well ... that's what I tried to convince myself anyway. 

You see, since we've been here, I've met all the people around us, but haven't tried to really reach out to anyone. I know how bitter our neighbor can be, but instead of talking to her and sharing the love of Christ, I try to avoid conversation knowing she is just going to rant and rave about about how things aren't perfect. So, I justify getting in the car quickly with having little kids or needing to get to the store. But the moment I dodge talking to her, it's as though I can audibly hear the Lord saying, 

"Really Ali? I put her in your path over and over again and you still avoid it? 
You know I'm not backing off. She needs to know how much I love her."

... and my response every time... 

"Ugh. I know Lord. Next time..."

The amazing thing about God is that He knows me better than I know myself. Instead of condemning me, He graciously reminds me in different ways of what I need to do. So at church yesterday, the message was based on Acts 13:4-52  and was called "Sent."  Go figure. Not only was the whole message on sharing the gospel, but the gentleman who was sharing emphasized that you don't have to go overseas, you just have to go across the street. Of course it was, right?

But it didn't stop there folks. Out of left field came this quote from an old Grey's Anatomy episode I was watching last night:

"If you believe in something enough that you would die for it, wouldn't you want to share that with your friends?"

Um, did not see that coming. It's a hard pill to swallow, but it is so on point. My goal and purpose in life is to spread the love of Jesus and glorify His Name in everything I say and do. I may fail at times, but I at least need to try. It's like that old saying "You can't make a basket if you don't take the shot." I need to take the shot. I need to try and love on this lady, regardless of the circumstances. She needs to know God's love and how much peace and freedom there is in that. It was a gift to me and not mine to keep to myself.

How about you my friend? Do you have the same urge? The great thing is, we aren't doing this alone nor do we have to be great at it.

"... 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness' ... "
-2 Corinthians 12:9

We just need to be willing to be used.

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"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.." - Romans 1:16


To listen to yesterday's awesome message, click here

Friday, July 11, 2014

Preparing for Pre-K and Kindergarten

I can't believe it. In forty days we will have one kiddo in full-day Kindergarten and one in Pre-K. Where in the heck did the time go? I feel like we haven't even begun to enjoy summer! (... maybe the fact that we haven't gone outside much since it is ridiculously hot and humid in Oklahoma has something to do with it...) Either way, it's learning crunch time.

My goal at the beginning of summer was to really work with the girls consistently on their fine motor skills, reading, writing, etc. so that they would be well prepared for the school year. Of course, I have never had a child in specifically Kindergarten so I didn't really know what was required or expected of Addi as she enters into the new school year. I found these great lists from Leap Frog and Scholastic online that gave me a good starting point on what to focus on as far as skill set. 

(Pre-K is technically considered Preschool- which is ages 2 thru 5. 
So for Jae, who has already taken a year of preschool, I use different aspects of each list)

Preschool- LeapFrog.com
  • Remembers short sequences of events of 2 to 3 steps
  • Develops gross motor coordination, such as to navigate around obstacles
  • Rides tricycles
  • Understands that words convey the message in a story
  • Recognizes the first letter of their own name
  • Scribble-writes in a linear fashion
  • Recognizes and matches small quantities to the number words 1, 2 and 3
  • Distinguishes between "some" and "all," and parts of a whole
  • Considers and offers explanations of how things might work
  • Drawings have basic resemblance to objects and people
  • Likes to imitate sounds and rhythm; might have a favorite song

Kindergarten- Scholastic.com
  • Identify some letters of the alphabet
  • Grip a pencil, crayon, or marker correctly (with the thumb and forefinger supporting the tip)
  • Use scissors, glue, paint, and other art materials with relative ease
  • Write his first name using upper- and lowercase letters, if possible
  • Count to 10
  • Bounce a ball
  • Classify objects according to their size, shape, and quantity
  • Speak using complete sentences
  • Recognize some common sight words, like “stop”
  • Identify rhyming words
  • Repeat his full name, address, phone number, and birthday
  • Play independently or focus on one activity with a friend for up to ten minutes
  • Manage bathroom needs
  • Dress himself
  • Follow directions
  • Clean up after himself
  • Listen to a story without interrupting
  • Separate from parents easily


Knowing what is to be expected of the girls, I have acquired a few learning tools and books over the last few months and thought I'd share so of my favorites with y'all in case you are interested!

The Brain Quest Workbooks are our "go-to" books. The girls love the exercises out of these.
They have a Pre-K as well as Kindergarten level.

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These are fun books. Definitely need mom or dad interaction with these (which is why I love them).
It challenges their way of thinking. These come in Kindergarten and Preschool levels.

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I LOVE this LeapFrog booklet. It allows you to make most any 3-letter word.
I saw Addi's reading skills improve a ton after practicing with this for a few days.
A great Target find in the craft section! 
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Last, but not least: Dry Erase anything. Doesn't matter if it is a plain board or a book full of mazes, letters, math...
The fact that we can use them over and over for not just the girls, but the boys as well is awesome!
Target has a great section of these items by the books.

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Well there you go! Hope this helps you get started if you needed some ideas! If you are interested in sight word cards or other tools we've used, let me know!


... and remember ...




Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It's Just a Shirt.


Every night before I go to bed, I write down the list of things I need to get done the next day. I've always prided myself on getting most of those things done. But day after day.. week after week.. the one item that often gets put off for days and days is ironing. I despise this chore. And yes, it is 100% a chore to me. I will clean bathrooms before I will iron. Ugh. Just the thought of having to do it annoys me. Pathetic, right?! Y'all, I dislike it so much that I'll often pass up buying a cute shirt if I know it needs ironed! And if you know me, you know that THAT is a big deal. Ha.

But this story isn't necessarily about my distaste for ironing, but rather how that affected my actions and ultimately my marriage...

You see, in the first five years of marriage, I could count the number of times I ironed my husband's work shirts: once. I remember that one time well. I had spent hours and hours ironing ALL of his shirts and with each shirt I got more and more frustrated. In my mind I was like, "It is just a dang shirt. Why does it have to be ironed? It's going to get wrinkled as soon as you tuck it in again." I was so bitter about "having" to iron his clothes, that I completely disregarded his feelings about it and just never did it again. We would send them off from time to time for dry cleaning, otherwise, he was having to steam them in the morning before work or spray them with wrinkle releaser.

Gosh. He is such a loving, understanding and grateful man. He never complained about the lack of ironing. Not even once. We would joke about it, but I never felt pressure to do it. That is, until I got conviction from elsewhere.

We were shopping one day and I remember JoJo saying, "I like getting new shirts, just to wear them for the first time. They are so crisp, it just makes me feel like I'm valuable at work." It hit me like a ton of bricks. It was such a pivotal moment for me and I believe for our marriage:

I had been so focused on my hate for something, that I lost sight of being a helpmate to my husband

Epic fail. I was so mad at myself for pushing aside that "small something" that actually meant something to him. Now, to this day, he will tell you that it wasn't a big deal, and relatively speaking, it wasn't. But what it ultimately represented was. My desire is to be a Proverbs 31 woman, which means, ALL selfishness must be put aside and that joy should come from serving God, my husband and my family- regardless of the task. 

To this day, I sigh whenever I see that stack of shirts waiting to be ironed. But there is such joy and accomplishment when I hang them up on our doorway for my husband to see. I know... it's just a shirt. But to me, it's a small way of showing my husband that I care and will always strive to be a better wife. 

theJAR's New Look

If you are regular reader, you've probably noticed the new layout of the blog AND the new logo (shout out to my awesome hubby for designing that with our monogram). What do you think? I would genuinely love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below! 

In case you haven't had a chance to navigate the whole site, I thought I'd point out some new and important features:

  1. Pages. To the right you will see a list of links including "About Me," "Recent Blog," and "Recommended Books." These won't necessarily show up on the home page, so if you are interested in these features, you will have to click on the individual links. I love reading and thought it'd be great to have all of my favorite books in one place in case someone needed a good idea! As I think of more great books/devotionals, I will add them! 
  2. Types of Blogs. When I go to someone's blog, it is usually for a specific reason. So whether you are looking for ways to organize, great recipes or just want to read about our crazy life, these will help narrow down the posts for you!
  3. Share. The share buttons aren't new, but they are at the bottom of the post and tend to be very tiny. But if you love something you read, please feel free to share via Facebook, Pinterest, whatever! 
  4. Feedback/Comment Section. I am absolutely humbled by the amount of support and compliments I get regarding my posts. Truly. I started this blog a few years back just as a place to write and I have gotten so much positive feedback that it has encouraged me to be more diligent about posting. I have you to thank for that! In the past, most comments have been posted on Facebook, which is great! But since I won't link all the posts there, if you want to comment on the blog itself, I'd greatly appreciate it!!! 
Again, thank you for your support. It has been really fun getting share parts of my life with y'all. That being said, I'd LOVE to hear about yours. So again, if there is a post that you have a comment on or a similar story, please do share. 

Y'all are great. Hope your day is truly blessed.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." - Proverbs 27:17


Monday, July 7, 2014

Kale Kick



According to my husband, I don't have a "mature taste palette..." Ha. Meaning, I don't care for new or exotic things... and I can't deny it. Now, don't get the wrong impression. I'm not a picky eater, I just have a safety bubble of certain flavors I enjoy :) At restaurants I tend to order the same thing over and over again because I am afraid I might not like something and waste my money. I also do the same thing at home. I'll try new recipes or even make ones up, as long as they are ingredients or spices I use frequently!

Realizing my tendency to stay "stuck" in the food world, I've purposely stepped out and started exploring new recipes and ingredients to try over the last few months. And I have to say, I have not been let down thus far!

My most recent "trial" was kale. Apparently all the cool kids are eating it, so I thought I'd try it....
Just kidding. The real reason is I saw all of the health benefits and I'm always looking for ways or super foods to put in our family's diet to help prolong healthy lives. Kale is known to:


Like most people, I started with a basic smoothie. The more times I made it, the more things I added. I've determined my favorite is my AvoKaleBerry Smoothie. It not only takes on the sweetness from the fruit, but the addition of chia seeds, avocado and kale makes it very nutritious.


RECIPE


1 1/2 cups fresh kale
1/2 avocado
1 cup mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
1 medium banana
1 cup greek yogurt (flavor of choice: honey, vanilla, strawberry..)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp of chia seeds


Blend. Drink. Enjoy!



Have leftover kale that needs used? Banana? Avocado? Anything that is going bad? Blend it up. Pour in ice cube trays. Freeze. Voila! Easy smoothie cubes. Pictured below are AvoKaleNana cubes. I blend a few of these with some frozen berries and almond milk for a super quick meal on-the-go.




Please comment with your favorite kale recipes, tips & tricks!!!! 


For more information on the health benefits of kale or how to eat it, check out co+op

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Well, here they are... pictures of our new house! Finally, right?! I've so been looking forward to sharing these, especially with our friends and family back in CO that won't get to see the house in person. And per some of y'all's requests, I tried to take as detailed of pictures as possible. 

Just note two things:

  1. I stink at taking pictures of anything other than human beings. Also, the only "camera" I have currently is my iPhone. So ignore the lack of photo skills.
  2. Not EVERYTHING is done, but this will give you a sense of our home =)

Hope you enjoy your little tour...!

Home Sweet Home


Entryway





Kitchen/Family Room










JoJo's Office





Master Room/Bath


(walls are actually light gray. poor photo skills + iphone = green walls)


Guest Room/Bath





Loft



Playroom









Girls' Room/Bath

(ugh. wish i had a great camera. walls are mint green, not this lime color)






Cobi's Room/Jack-n-Jill Bath/Aksel's Room








Backyard





Last, But Certainly Not Least... The Must-Have... STORM SHELTER



There it is folks. A glimpse into our home. The pictures don't do the house justice so you should just plan a visit to Edmond, OK and see it for yourself ;)